Her Way: Young Women Remake the Sexual Revolution

By Paula Kamen | Go to book overview

Notes

NOTES TO THE INTRODUCTION

1. This was the finding of the Pro-Choice Education Project's 1997 focus group research and 1998 nationwide survey of young women's attitudes toward choice (“New Generation of Women Recruited for Abortion Rights Battles,” syndicated online by the Louise D. Palmer Newhouse News Service, 1 September 1999). For another example of this gap in consciousness, see “Debate Distant for Many Having Abortions,” by Tamar Lewin in the New York Times (1998a). After interviewing women waiting for abortions at clinics across the country, Lewin reports that “a surprising number said they did not consider themselves 'pro-choice.' Some considered themselves 'pro-life'” (A1).

2. See the Associated Press report, “Freshmen Said to Have Conservative Views on Casual Sex, Abortion,” 6 April 1999. It reports that in 1975, half the college students interviewed endorsed casual sex, while only 39.6 percent had that view in 1998. However, men's permissiveness has dropped more than that of women. According to the report, in 1974, 29.8 percent of women agreed “that sex is OK if two people like each other” (American Freshman 1997, 119), compared with 27.7 percent in 1998 (American Freshman 1999, 99). For men, that number in 1974 was 60.9 percent (American Freshman 1997, 89) and, in 1998, 53.6 percent (American Freshman 1999, 48). The headlines neglected to mention women in those years when their permissiveness actually rose, but when men's conservatism resulted in an overall drop. For example, in 1996, while headlines emphasized freshmen's becoming less permissive overall (“Fewer College Freshmen Endorsing Casual Sex”), women's overall approval of casual sex was at 31.9 percent, more than in 1974 and up from 1995 (American Freshman 1997, 118–19). These differences in figures are very small but illustrate a willingness of the media to inflate any evidence that permissiveness might be diminishing and to ignore gender differences in data.

3. For example, in a 1994 Details survey, when asked whether sexual correctness was a problem, 26 percent of the men responded yes, compared with 16 percent of the women (“Love Rules” 1994, 109). A larger-scale 1995 Playboy survey on sexual correctness revealed similar findings. When asked whether “political correctness kills spontaneity and fun,” half of men agreed, compared with, again, nearly half that number, 27 percent of women. The study reported widespread male confusion about actually facing some limits: “Forty-five percent of the students, including more than half the men, said the focus on sexual harassment has made them fear being spontaneous with someone they find attractive” (Rowe 1995, 153).

4. “Rather than being an isolated phenomenon, these changes in sexual behavior, living together, and child-bearing have been part of broader social changes

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